Changes in healthcare seeking and lifestyle in old aged individuals during COVID-19 lockdown in Germany: the population-based AugUR study
Zimmermann, Martina E.
Stark, Klaus J.
Heid, Iris M.
Background: Containment measures in the COVID-19 pandemic protected individuals at high risk, particularly individuals at old age, but little is known about how these measures affected health-related behavior of old aged individuals. We aimed to investigate the impact of the spring 2020 lockdown in Germany on healthcare-seeking and health-related lifestyle in the old aged and to identify susceptible subgroups. Methods: We conducted a follow-up survey among the pre-pandemically well-characterized participants of our AugUR cohort study, residents in/around Regensburg aged 70+ years and relatively mobile. A self-completion ques- tionnaire on current behavior, perceived changes, and SARS-Cov-2 infection was mailed in May 2020, shortly before contact restrictions ended. Pre-pandemic lifestyle and medical conditions were derived from previous study center visits. Results: Among 1850 survey participants (73–98 years; net-response 89%), 74% were at increased risk for severe COVID-19 according to medical conditions; four participants reported SARS-CoV-2 infection (0.2%). Participants reported changes in behavior: 29% refrained from medical appointments, 14% increased TV consumption, 26% reported less physical activity, but no systematic increase of smoking or alcohol consumption. When comparing dur- ing- and pre-lockdown reports of lifestyle within participant, we found the same pattern as for the reported perceived changes. Women and the more educated were more susceptible to changes. Worse QOL was perceived by 38%. Conclusions: Our data suggest that the spring 2020 lockdown did not affect the lifestyle of a majority of the mobile old aged individuals, but the substantial proportions with decreased physical activity and healthcare-seeking are markers of collateral damage.
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